THE VICAR

THE VICAR

Yes. This is our burial place. Only one place left. For me.
It supposed to be my older brother's, but they buried him at Brothers Capuchins monastery.
They did not even inform us. We found out about it by accident.
In fact, he died for the world a long time ago.
He was much older than I was. And such learned one.
He became a priest just before the war.
We were so proud when he came back after ordination and got a vicar position here.
Just imagine! A priest in the family!
It was for us a terrible experience when he soon after the war gave up being a priest.
Everything because of these Jews!
I was a young lad, but I remember everything.
There were quite a lot of them here before the war. Both rich and poor.
We lived like neighbors next door. They bothered nobody. They had their little synagogue.
Our vicar even often discussed with their rabbi, although the parson was not very happy with it. Nobody saw the poor because they were just like us. But if they were rich, so you could see it.
One could even earn a little each Saturday there because they were not allowed to do anything.
The Communists? Yes. There were several among them. Their families were very unhappy because of this. Not enough that they rejected their religion. They did not recognize the divine orders either. It was worst in the Sheidak family. They were rich, but their older son, a freak, became Bolshevik. When the police came for him, he was already on the Russian side of the border.
When the war broke out and the Russians came, these Jewish communists, together with several of ours, came out with red flags. Two of these families, the poor ones, have made a welcome gate with flowers. These rich and religious Jews preferred to remain invisible.
This young Sheidak came with the Russians and immediately began to introduce a new regime.
It was he, who arranged the punishment of our teacher. The teacher was a Polish nationalist and always talked against the Jews and Bolsheviks. But to send him because of it to Siberia?!
These rich Jews were also afraid of Russians.
There was one particular. His name was Katz. Very rich. He owned a freight company.
He had even bought an old manor house, where he kept all his coachmen with their families.
When the Russians came, they have nationalized all businesses. Katz, to be on the safe side, took a job as a guard in his old company. He hid all his assets in the coachmen's houses. They got order to guard that special room, he had in each flat.
It was quite a story with his guard job. Once he took and ate a single cucumber from a cart and one of the Russian saw it. They have immediately accused him of stealing of state property and jailed.
A warden came and they made a public trial. Everyone in the village got an order to come and see the trial. The prosecutor shouted, "Because of such villains all Soviet country suffers!".
And Katz got 10 years of labor camp!
That is how it was with the Russians.
When the Germans came, they did it hard for the Jews.
They broke the rabbi's legs and shot those who tried to intervene.
They told us that if we have any old scores with the Jews, so we can do what we please.
It came for Jews a hard time. The Bolshevik families' cottages were burned down.
The biggest fun was with the rich Jews. They tried to get our parson to defend them.
But the parson shouted only at them and said that he would not interfere in private quarrels.
The vicar just shook his head and said nothing.
No. There was no murdering of Jews in our village.
We had just helped to chase them when the Germans ordered Jews to leave for the ghetto.
I, along with other boys, chased and found those who tried to hide.
And yes. The people took all remained Jewish property. They did not need it anyway.
These coachmen have taken care of Katz's special rooms. And they found there money, property deeds, debt papers and much more. People enriched themselves with Jewish things.
The parson turned a blind eye to this, because the whole village was involved, and to all this, he was lying sick.
Everything was on the vicar's head. He was very sad. His sermons in the church about the love of the neighbor were such powerful that one could feel the shivers passing the body.
Anyway, after the people left the church they did the same as before.
With all the trouble with the Germans and the partisans, no one cared about the sermon words.
Short after the war ended Katz had appeared again!
When he realized that his small rooms were looted, he became very upset.
Then he said that he wanted to inspect the rooms alone. Without witnesses.
The coachmen have agreed at first. But when he came out from the first room, they caught him. And when they went him upside down, the gold fell on the floor!
He had some hidden boxes there! They tried to make him talk about other hiding places, but he did not want to say. Even when they started beating him. So they beat him harder.
The whole village has heard it. He just screamed louder and louder but did not want to say anything.
Suddenly he stopped screaming. Nobody had seen him again after that.
The atmosphere in the village became very unpleasant. People were afraid to look at each other.
The vicar after he took the villagers' confessions had locked himself in the church and wept like a child.
And the next day he told the parson that he was going to visit the diocese.
He was wearing normal clothes when he came back.
He said he could not be a priest anymore. Because he let God down.
Good Lord! How come?!
Because he allowed his flock to turn against God's commandments.
Because he did not react when the village did not observe, "Love your neighbor as yourself."
Because he looked at his parishioners when they, in terrible deceit, forgot about "Don't do unto others what you don't want others to do unto you" and did not react.
That he never mentioned in his sermons that it also concerned their Jewish neighbors.
That is why he feels complicit in the murder of Katz and unworthy to be a priest.
In the diocese, they convinced him that if he did not lose faith in God, he could serve him in a different way.
In this way, he found himself with the Capuchin Brothers.
And stayed there until his death.